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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  May 23, 2011 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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captions paid for by nbc-universal television it certainly seemed like a perfect marriage. >> he said this is the one. >> this is the one. >> nice house. four kids. plenty of money. but it was not what it seemed. >> peter told me, susan had had an affair. >> soon they were headed to divorce court, but this was no ordinary split. >> it was bad. >> a nasty split. >> yeah. >> how bad? she hired a private-i to dig up dirt. did she want something else? >> she said, i need my problems to go away. >> cold-blooded scheming and rage as you rarely see it.
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>> he's scum. >> an angry wife caught on camera plot her crime. >> i want him more than hurt. >> you want him dead? >> yeah, god, i don't want to say it. you said it. >> can they stop her before she goes too far? >> once someone's dead, it's forever. >> yeah, i'd love that. >> "something about susan." good evening, and welcome to "dateline." i'm chris hansen. it's not often you can watch a criminal at work, but thanks to a hidden camera and a principled private-i, tonight you will. it's a homicide investigation that started before anyone was dead. the challenge would be keeping it that way. the houses are large, elegant, traditional. and as you drive past these regal homes, you can't help but imagine the happy and fulfilled lives being lived inside. at this house, however, the
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finally painted trim belied a simmering anger which would soon explode. >> this is a nightmare. this is just going on forever. he's just so angry. he wants to put me in the ground. >> once something is done, it can't be undone. >> rarely is such unbridled rage and sinister plotting caught on camera. >> i want it as simple as possible. >> as in so many stories of anger, hate and violence, at first, there was love. >> peter called me and said, would you mind if i came over and visited you in london? i said, come on over. he said, do you mind if i bring a friend of mine? >> a friend? >> i said, sure. he showed up with this woman named suzy. that's how i met her. >> michael had been friends with peter williams since high school. what drew the two of you together? what was the bond? >> one of the top athletes in the county in wrestling. i kind of took peter under my belt. >> you were a mentor? >> i was a mentor of peter's when younger. he put his nose to grindstone and ended up becoming a very good wrestler.
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>> what does that say about a guy like peter? >> i'd say it's consistent with his personality. a very quiet person. a very determined person. and a very honorable person. >> so a few years later, when he was in london, michael was excited when peter came to visit with his stunning new girlfriend. you had a nice time. >> very nice time. >> was she attractive? >> she was very attractive. very nice. >> susan who was in college working toward a degree in business came to london for shopping. peter was in love. what did peter tell you about suzy on that first trip? there he said this is the one. >> this is the one? two years later in may of 1981 peter and susan was married. peter, 27, susan 23. is it happily ever after? does it look like that's where it's going? >> if you knew peter back then, you'd say yes. >> he loved this woman? >> loved her, wanted to have
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kids, want to go to work. wanted a stable life, always. that's the way peter was. >> it seemed as if the happily ever after for peter and susan williams was under way. in those years, according to peter's friend, all seemed well in the peters' household. >> peter and susan always seemed to get along. i can't recall them bickering or arguing. they from outward appearances looked like a very, very happy couple. >> the outward appearance eventually included the house in garden city, an upscale long island town. susan worked various jobs before settling in as a legal assistant and peter had started his own successful fence company. >> as his business grew, he joined a local country club. he was doing very well. seemed very happy. >> chris said peter was also a devoted father to his four children, two girls and two boys. >> really doted upon his children. he would cook them gourmet meals day in and day out.
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he would ferry them from activity to activity. he was an integral part of their existence. >> and says chris, susan was there every step of the way. >> she seemed to be a very nice wife, great mother. >> but in 2007, the happy marriage began to strain. chris says he had no indication that anything was wrong until peter confided in him. >> peter told me that susan had had an affair. he seemed to be very, very crushed. very disappointed. >> even so, says chris, peter wasn't ready to end a marriage of nearly 20 years over susan's affair. >> he loved his wife. he loved his children. he loved the stability and the cohesiveness of the family. he didn't want to lose that. >> for months peter and susan tried to work things out. they couldn't. in january, 2008, it was susan, not peter, who filed for divorce.
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while she may have had an affair, she accused peter of cheating and much more. although they both remained in the house, peter's close friends say the divorce proceedings were anything but amicable. this was a nasty divorce. >> yes. >> and the allegations suzy leveled against peter were pretty brutal. >> it was everything you could blame somebody for. theft, infidelity, drugs, alcohol, stealing, you know -- anything you could imagine. >> according to peter's friends, susan's unwillingness to compromise turned the divorce proceedings into a war of attrition. >> every action he attempted within the divorce proceeding, susan would oppose. and it became a -- just a tug-of-war. brutal tug-of-war. peter wanted just to split up, separate, divide assets, declare a schedule for visitation.
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and that's all he wanted. and susan resisted. she wasn't getting what she wanted which was her kids, the money, the house. >> with the divorce seemingly going nowhere, susan sought the help of this private investigator. but what sort of help, exactly, did susan want? coming up, she starts off with digging up dirt on her husband. >> she had no leverage. she had no ammunition. >> but would that satisfy her? or would she eventually be after something very different? when ueinnts.susan" continue 3q
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by early 2008, the once happy marriage of peter and susan williams was in shambles. and while they were living together under the same roof with their four children ages 9 to 17, they were living very separate lives. the divorce proceedings were waring on peter, says his friend, chris. >> he was usually a happy-go-lucky guy and he became a little more withdrawn. i never witnessed him cry, but
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he told me that he would at certain times he would just break down and cry and ask himself, why is that happening to me? >> peter's friends say susan was determined to get as much as possible in a divorce settlement. to do so, she felt she needed help. >> she had no leverage. she had no ammunition. >> joel is a former nypd detective who now works as a private investigator. give any a sense for the range of cases you work on now. >> anywhere from matrimonial to corporate espionage. you know, a lot of background intel work. >> labella met susan through a mutual acquaintance. >> a female friend of his and asked me if i would be interested in doing surveillance. i said absolutely. >> the acquaintance put susan and labella in touch. they set up a meeting. it was spring 2008. what kind of a person did she seem like? >> like a nice woman. clean cut.
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you know, pretty. you know, nice family. four kids. nice house in the city. it seemed like she had a lot on her plate. i'd seen it before. just gone through a bad divorce. >> i imagine in garden city, when there's a divorce, there's a lot of money on the line and there's the issue of the children as well. >> sure. >> and what you dig up can determine the results of how that's all divided. >> yep. absolutely. >> labella says susan painted a bleak picture of her marriage and a grotesque image of her husband. based on what susan was telling you, what kind of a guy was peter? >> this extremely bad father. heavy alcoholic, drinker. very neglecting. >> labella felt sorry for susan and agreed to work for her. she asked him to follow peter to dig up dirt on him. what did your surveillance show? >> the first few times that we followed him, we didn't come up with much.
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we didn't really ascertain whether or not he was drinking or if he was drunk. >> an average guy going about his business. >> that's it. >> peter was not oblivious to what his wife was doing. he knew he was being tailed? >> he knew there were private investigators following him. he knew she would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. >> how did he feel about being followed? >> he said it's almost like you feel like someone's breathe iinn you all the time. >> labella says susan would tip him off to peter's whereabouts. it was with one of these tips that labella hit peter. susan told him peter was at his brother's house drinking. labella and a colleague waited outside the house for peter to leave. >> he did leave the location. we tailed him. he was obviously drunk. he was swerving. >> he was all over the world. >> all over the road. at one point he almost swerved into my vehicle. i had to kind of pull away. it clearly -- he definitely was drunk. >> labella called 911, hoping to defuse as what he saw as a
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potentially dangerous situation, labella made a play to keep peter from continuing to drive. >> he stopped at a red light. then my vehicle and my partner's vehicle was kind of like -- >> boxed him in. >> this way he wouldn't be able to pull out and hurt anybody. >> were you trying to nail this guy or were you worried about somebody getting hurt because he was drunk driving? >> i was worried about somebody getting hurt that he was drunk troo driving. as well as that, it was part of my case. >> to get him. >> the police arrived and arrested peter for drunk driving. susan was thrilled, says labella. she hoped peter's arrest would work to her advantage in the divorce. by then the atmosphere in the house had become so volatile that peter decided to move out. >> peter felt it was a bad environment for the kids. to see their parents fighting. it was a good idea to get out. to move out. to separate himself from that volatility. >> shortly after peter moved out, susan dropped a bombshell of an accusation against him. she had recently been diagnosed
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with cervical cancer. cancer that she claimed had developed from an untreated sexually transmitted disease that peter had given her. >> susan suggested that peter upon giving estrogen to female customers, he'd have sex with them and bring hem diseases. >> she told the children in order to turn them against him. >> that's how she got cancer, it was his father's fault. that affected pete greatly. >> what did he tell you about that? >> said he tested negative. >> peter denied susan's other accusations saying he never cheated from her or stole anything and did not have a drug or alcohol problem. the divorce dragged on through the summer. by the fall, joel labella was no longer working for susan williams. case closed for you. >> case closed. i was paid in full. that was it. >> the case was far from closed for susan williams.
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becoming increasingly desperate and reach out to labella once again. would you ever have dreamed in a million years that the scenario that played out would, in fact, involve -- >> involve me? >> involve you? >> no. 2 million years. coming up, the stakes go up as susan reveals her real goal. >> she says, i want him to disappear. and later the planning continues and it's all caught on tape. >> like an accident is best. >> w
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by the winter of 2010, private investigator joel labella had all but forgotten about susan williams and her bitter doivorce. >> job was done.
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that was it. >> did you ever think you'd hear from susan williams again? >> no, no, not at all. >> but while labella had moved on to other jobs, other investigations, susan and peter williams remained embroiled in a two-year-long divorce that grew more acrimonious by the day. not just a divorce, but a nasty divorce. >> it was, like, the war of the roses divorce. it escalated to that level. >> as the proceedings dragged on, peter was getting on with his life and was living with a new girlfriend. susan, meanwhile, was still in the house with the couple's two youngest children and was about to take their battle to a whole new level. a level joel labella would never have dreamed of when susan reached out to him again nearly 18 months after he last worked for her. you met susan williams in this very diner. >> yes. >> and was she nervous? how would you describe her demeanor? >> very relaxed. you know, smiled. >> it was small talk at first. chitchat, says labella. >> we sit down, have a coffee,
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how are your children, how are my children? how's everything going, how's your health? >> nothing in her demeanor tipped him to susan's intentions. he assumed she wanted more dirt dug up on her husband. as he soon found out, she wanted something else entirely. >> she says to me, i need my problems to go away. she says, i need this over, i need this all to just disappear and want him to disappear. i said, peter? she said, yeah. she said, gone. >> him to disappear? peter gone? susan wasn't playing games, says labella. she wanted her husband, peter, out of the picture for good and wanted labella to help. it was a lot to process for the former nypd detective. >> when people are going through bitter divorces, you know -- >> they get emotional. >> as the conversation went on, started to be more, become more and more clear to me she wanted to either have him very badly hurt or if not disappeared, gone. problem solved. out of her life. >> labella decided to play
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along. >> i'm saying, you know, again, smiles on my face. i'm kind of like a little chuckly. i'm like, i go, what, like you want him badly beat up to the point where he's, you know, in a hospital bed? sipping through a straw? comatose? you know, can that be done, she would say? and i'm like, anything could be done. it's just a question on -- are you serious? i mean, are we serious here? do you hear yourself, sue? i mean, this is the father of your four children. and she says, i don't care, he needs to be gone. >> was she looking around? >> no, no, no. >> hushed tones? >> pretty much the way we're talki ining right now. level a little bit lower. >> according to labella, susan had a financial incentive to get peter out of the picture. >> you know, rattling off about his insurance policy, has a very large insurance policy. a million-plus dollars. >> remarkably, despite their bitter divorce, susan was still the beneficiary of peter's life insurance policy and would collect the money if anything happened to him.
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did she give you any suggestions as to how she wanted this to take place? >> suggestions as far as blowing up his car. >> blowing up his car? >> blowing up his car. >> this is one angry woman. >> yeah. extremely. >> having another car crash into his? >> yeah. whether it would be me or one of my workers or me finding somebody to drive a vehicle into his at a high rate of speed. >> they started referring to hurting peter at option "a," killing him at option ""b. "what would it be for him getting badly beaten up? long term disability money? >> that in her mind wasn't the option she wanted to go for obviously. >> susan wanted to know how much each option would cost. >> i'm saying, i don't know, maybe $10,000, $20,000, $10,000 at the very least to have him beat up. >> did she blink at that number? >> no, nope. >> how do you end that first meeting here at this diner? >> by telling her, wait until you hear from me.
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don't talk about this to nobody. >> security cameras show them calmly leaving the diner. but joel labella's mind was racing. you weren't considering having this done? >> no, absolutely not. >> even so, labella spent three sleepless nights wrestling over what to do. could susan seriously be asking to have her husband killed or was she so angry and desperate she wasn't thinking strate inin? maybe she would come to her senses. how agonizing were those couple of days for you? >> i wouldn't want to put that mental anguish on anybody. >> how close did you come to giving her a call and saying, look, we can't to do it, it's t wrong thing to do, you need to get some help. >> i came very close to doing that a few times. >> what made you ultimately decide to go the other way, to pick up the phone and call the cops? >> because i was afraid that she was going to go have this done anyway. >> through a friend, labella
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contacted a defense attorney with connections in the d.a.'s office. >> you don't very often have an instance where a wife says, i want to get rid of my husband, kill the father of my children. instead of just seeing this divorce through. >> kathleen rice is the district attorney for nassau county, new york. her office met with joel labella. give me a sense of the urgency once your office became aware of this. >> as you can imagine, time is of the essence. the first thing you have to do is ensure that this is really real. is what this person is telling you the truth? you get the surveillance tapes from the diner. lo and behold, there's a picture of susan and joel. that corroborated the fact he met with her on that day. >> detectives with thed.a.'s office had joel labella call susan, a call they recorded. >> going to pick up my son, taking him to choir practice. >> doesn't that sound like fun? >> you know, we try to be a
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little -- >> at first it's like two friends catching up. but labella abruptly changes the subject. >> let's cut through the [ bleep ]. did you give what we talked about much thought? >> a lot. >> still want to move forward? >> yeah. >> labella then tells her he's found someone. >> i have a buddy of mine i reached out to, old school guy, very good. >> it is chilling to hear susan so nonchalantally discuss the murder of her husband. >> we can go with option "a" or "b." that's something you'll sit and kick around again and then let me know. both of them are available. remember, like i said, there's no turning back now. >> no, i understand. >> the three-minute conversation ends with labella promising to set up with a meeting with his friend. >> i'm going to get back to you and let you know. all right, sweetie? >> all right, thanks so much. >> all right, baby. >> bye. >> would susan actually go through with it?
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>> it's a nightmare. he's scum. >> wow. >> he's scum, all right? >> raw emotion. and it's all caught on camera. when "something about susan" continues. 3q lysol neutra air fabric mist eliminates bacterial odors at the source. and unlike febreze, lysol is approved to kill 99.9% of bacteria on soft surfaces. two reasons why with lysol, a fresh home is the sign of a healthy home. host: could switching to geico or more on car insurance?
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it was february, 2010, the winter landscape mirrored the cold and bitter divorce over which peter and susan williams had been fighting for more than two years. friends like michael blame susan for holding things up believing she cared far too much about the house and the couple's belongings to agree to simply divide them. >> she was very concerned with material things? >> very materialistic person. she was always counting everybody else's money as compared to what she had. she'd walk into your house, look at something, go, it's nice, how much? she knew the cost of everything but the value of nothing. >> susan it appears found a way to get rid of peter without sacrificing that lifestyle. she wanted out of this marriage? >> yeah. >> and now she wanted out of it by having peter dead. >> yeah. yeah. >> that's pretty cold.
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>> that's really cold. >> joel labella was the man whom she asked to get it done. but labella instead had fwogone the authorities. >> he knew her, worked for her before. he took her seriously enough, this is way over my head, what do i do? that's when we intervened. >> nassau county detectives had labella set up a meeting between susan and one of their own. >> as part of our investigation, we took a detective, he posed as an assassin. he was introduced to susan williams by joel labella. >> on the day of the meeting labella and susan arrived in the parking lot of the diner where they hatched the initial plot. before taking her across the street to the waiting hit man, labella had something to say. >> i roll my window down, she rolls her passenger window down. hey, how you doing? i said, what's up? i said, sue, go home. you don't have to do this, sue. she looks at me and says, no, no, i'm all right. >> with that, susan followed
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labella across the street where she was introduced to the hit man. >> i cannot be too far away, okay? >> as in her conversations with joel labella, susan at first makes chitchat. >> how are you? >> good. this is odd in a parking lot. >> yeah, well -- >> before long the two got down to business. >> what do you need, susan? >> all right. i'm in a nasty divorce. my husband is -- he's that type that needs the [ bleep ] kicked out of him. he's an outlier husband. i was really manipulated by my husband four years. him and his attorney are trying to destroy me in every single way. my husband has everybody suing me. i can't take this anymore. he doesn't go away. it's like this -- >> you heard in really disturbing detail the way she talked about her husband. the lack of any kind of feeling she had for him. the enormous hatred and anger that she had toward him. >> i want him out of my life, so -- >> okay. you want him out of your life.
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>> if, you know -- >> how? >> like an accident is best. i want less repercussions on my end. >> the undercover is careful to let susan speak. >> i'm not here to put words in your mouth. you tell me what you need. >> he also gives her the opportunity to walk away. >> are you sure this is what you want? >> yes. >> they go back and forth over whether the hit man should kill peter or beat him severely. >> once someone's dead, they're not walking the earth anymore. it's forever. >> i'd love that. i now what that costs. i don't have it. >> if you want him dead it's going to be $20,000. >> that's it? i'm sorry. >> ultimately it's the there $2 price tag that makes up susan's mind. >> hurt him bad. >> okay. you want me to hurt him bad? >> yeah, that bad that he can't speak. i don't want his leg broken and an arm broken. i can do that.
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i can trip him, you know? >> okay. you want him hurt bad? >> yes, to the point where he's so bad he can't fight the divorce anymore. he's got to give up, give in and go, you know -- >> the meeting ends with the agreement that next time susan will bring a $500 cash down payment as well as information on how the hit man can find her husband. despite agreeing to pay to have her husband beaten, susan was not arrested. >> no money had been exchanged. she was very nervous it seemed. she was a little unsure about exactly what she wanted done. >> so she walks away after the first meeting, the potential of charges is -- >> there may not have been charges. >> susan and the undercover detective meet again three days later here at eisenhower park, less than five miles from the williams' family home. once again, susan gets into the undercover's car. there's a camera rolling the whole time. remember, at that first meeting, susan said she wanted her husband, peter, badly beaten, having him killed was too
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expensive. but as it soon becomes clear, susan has been thinking very hard about that decision. >> i'm going back and forth. i'll tell you why. >> go ahead. >> i just -- if he's hurt, my kids are going to go crazy. they're going to feel bad for him. he's not going anywhere, nothing really happens. like, this is going on forever. he's still going to hire more attorneys because he's just so angry. he wants to put me in the ground. >> susan's anger for peter boils over. >> let me tell you what my husband did to me. my husband gave me hpv and turned into cervical cancer. they ripped everything out of me. >> how did he give you cancer? >> she was screwing around and got hpv. it's a nightmare. he's scum. i'm not going to feel bad. >> how far was she now willing to go? >> i want him more than hurt. because if he gets hurt -- >> all right. you want him dead. coming up, as susan spells
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out her plans, she actually seems to be enjoying herself. >> if i could do it myself, i would. you know? >> will she be stopped before it's too late? when "dateline" continues. [ sniffs ]
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susan williams, mother of four, is about to make a faithful decision. >> i'm going back and forth. i'm going to tell you why. >> she resigned herself to having her husband, peter, badly beaten because she couldn't afford the $20,000 it would cost to have him killed. gut now sitting once again in the undercover ee's car it appe susan changed her mind deciding the benefits of a dead husband far outweigh the cost of having it done. >> all right, all right, i understand, you want him dead. >> god, i don't want to say it. you said it. >> susan, with a smile on her face, has just given the go-ahead for peter's murder. >> i want it as simple as possible. like, if i could do it myself, i would, you know? i don't want to be like, a made for tv movie. if it's an accident, i'd love it. >> a car accident is good.
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i mean, there's no -- >> i know. >> there's no mystery, there's no -- >> right. >> -- you know, illegal weapons. >> right. >> it's just, you know, actually i was thinking, i like that idea. not going to be shot. nothing like that, okay? >> uh-huh. good. because what are they going to do? you know, it's an accident. >> yes, an accident. >> i'm better off that way. >> as in the first meeting, the undercover gives susan the opportunity to call it all off. >> susan, you want to walk away from me? we never met, have a good life? see you later? that's fine. >> susan remains committed. >> i'd love to just do this and get it done. >> although she seems to realize the line she's crossing. >> i would disgrace my family. >> it's not just any family that susan would disgrace. it's a family she explains, of cops. >> you kind of look like a cop. >> i wanted to be a cop. >> so did i. everybody does. >> my brother is an aviation policeman. >> she jokes, pathetically,
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perhaps, about her fate. >> you're -- you're taping me, [ bleep ] if that's the case. >> ultimately, however, susan seems more concerned about potential incriminating evidence in her home. >> i'm going crazy thinking, i have to get rid of my hard drive, laptop. >> she ponders how best to react to the news of peter's death. >> i want to make sure when the cops come to my house, i know it's a proper expression and what not to say and what to say when they come to me. that's what i think about. i'm a very big, like, what are the repercussions? what are the domino effects? >> and even discusses the funeral. >> should i go? i guess i have to go, show my remorse, with the kids, make sure they go through the grieving process. i know it's tough in the end, everyone getting over the whole situation. but they're going to get over it. >> susan, herself, won't have any trouble getting over peter's death. >> i don't have any emotions. i do but i don't. i don't save anything.
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i'm not a collector of anything. everything i throw away. >> you're scaring me. >> cold and calculating, susan williams seems to throw even the undercover. >> you ever did this before? >> no. >> oh, because -- >> i know. i should have been a policeman. i tell you, i tell you, i was going to be a policewoman. >> you had me worrying. you came up with good ideas. like meet here, the accident. i mean, i'm thinking, she's either a cop or she did this before. >> finally, she hands over the down payment. >> how much is here? >> $500. like you told me. >> $500 is good. >> a picture of peter taken at of all places, their daughter's sweet 16 birthday party. >> i guess you cut yourself out of that picture? >> i did. not a problem. >> on the back of the photo is personal information about peter so that the hit man can be sure he gets the right man.
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>> this is his business address, williams fence. this is what he drives. bmw truck. >> susan uses every opportunity to take a shot at her husband. >> let me ask you this, he's not a retired cop or nothing, is he? >> no. he's not even educated. >> but it's also very clear that peter is the one and only target. >> he lives with his girlfriend. i don't want to siee the same thing -- >> i don't blame you. nothing is going to happen to anything but him. >> the undercover drives home one last time the seriousness of what susan is asking. >> he's going to be dead. not going to be living anymore. i want to be clear. i don't want you flipping out on me. >> with that, the deal is done. >> all right. i'll hear from you then, right? all righty. >> later. >> and susan williams leaves thinking she'll soon get word that her husband is dead. coming up, there's a knock at the door, all right. and a shock. and soon a lively susan's caught
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on tape all over again. >> oh, i love you. you are awesome. >> now what does she want? when "something about susan"
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on march 3rd, 2010, susan williams paid $500 for what she thought was a down payment toward the murder of her husband. peter. >> he's going to be dead. not going to be living anymore. >> susan was carefully preparing her reaction to news that peter was dead, but to her vise, that's not what she got. when detectives came to her door the next day. >> in reality, what she got was the doorbell ringing but there were police officers saying put your hands behind your back and they were handcuffing her. and her reaction tells you exactly what you need to know about susan williams. she was cold. there was no reaction. there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that she wanted her
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husband dead and she was going to do whatever she could do to make that happen. >> the press had a field day with the petite and attractive 43-year-old mother of four. susan's frequent visits to a high-priced hair salon including a trip on the day of her arrest gave the tabloids a sensational mugshot to splash across their pages. besides trying to have their husband killed, she was charged with forging peter's signature on the life insurance documents ensuring she'd collect the money if he died. >> i opened paper and right there, suzy williams tries to hire someone to kill pete williams. i said, i knew these people, i was at their wedding. peter was a dear friend. >> did it blow you away peter williams would hire a hit man to kill her husband? >> yes. my guess is suzy grew tired of the marriage but not the money. >> friends say peter was characteristically stoic when he
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heard the news. >> he's like an oak in the middle of everything. the wind blows, he stands there. he's a very, very unique person. >> after susan's arrest, peter moved back into the house in garden city. susan, herself, was at the nassau county jail and despite the seemingly overwhelming video evidence against her, she pleaded not guilty. >> i have a prepaid call from -- >> susan. >> an inmate at nassau county jail. >> in fact, in this recorded phone call she made from jail to her 20-year-old daughter, alexis, just days after her arrest -- >> mom? >> yeah, hi. >> susan hardly seems concerned that she could be facing as many as 25 years in prison. >> so how are you? >> i'm okay. they moved me to a different block. >> you have a really good attorney. did you hear him talking? he's amazing. >> her daughter, meanwhile, makes it perfectly clear she's firmly in her mother's corner. >> i went into the house yesterday and i got everything.
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>> i love you. >> alexis says she's taken some of her mother's papers out of the house. >> did you take the wooden thing off my desk? >> yeah, i took everything, dude. two, three, full suitcases and your thing of files worth of every single paper that's in your house with your name on it. >> you don't know how much i love you. your father didn't see? >> nope. he was there. >> when peter tried to stop his daughter, alexis says she threatened her daughter. >> he's like, i don't think this is a good idea. i started screaming at the top of my lungs telling him i'm g j going to call the cops and tell them he hit me. i was like, i'll cut my wrists right here. i deserved an academy award. i was clawing, i was throwing things. so, like, he got kind of scared so then he finally was just like, all right. >> susan couldn't be prouder of her daughter. >> i don't believe it.
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you are awesome. >> though she's behind bars, susan seems obsessed with preventing peter from getting his hands on her stuff. >> i want my comforter. my bed. just bought it. what about all the jewelry? >> i took your entire jewelry box and put it in my car. >> my engagement ring, get rid of that. it's too expensive to -- >> i will. i will. i love you. >> i love you so much, honey. thank withdrew. >> i love you, good-bye. >> alexis wasn't alone in the support for her mother. all four of the williams children stood by susan up until the trial. by that time susan's hair was gray and pulled into a tight ponytail. there are no high-end salons in jail. she was barely recognizable from the ra verven hair soccer mom. >> nassau county district attorney kathleen rice and her prosecutors were confident.
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>> we had a very, very strong case. >> what was the most critical piece of evidence you presented at trial? >> the most powerful piece of evidence were the audio and vid wrote tapes of susan meeting with the person she believed to be an assassin. >> you're taping me, [ bleep ]. >> to tell to the prosecution's evidence against her, the defense portrayed susan williams as a victim, a woman pushed to committing a crime she would never have done on her own. >> what she wanted the court and the jury to believe was that these cops, they encouraged me to this. i wouldn't but for them goading me, encouraging me, i never would have done this. this is not who i am. i never would have tried to kill my husband. >> but the prosecution emphasized the undercover detective gave susan several opportunities to walk away. >> susan, you want to walk away from me, if you want to walk away right now, see you later, that's fine. if you didn't want to do this, if you didn't want to do it, i'd
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be gone. >> i'd love to do this and get it done. >> all right. all right. >> once the case went to the jury, it didn't take long. after just four hours of deliberations, a verdict. guilty. at the sentencing a month later the courtroom was filled with susan's supporters including her eldest daughter, alexis. susan read a statement apologizing to her parents and to her children. and although she was convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill him, she didn't mention peter once. >> the hypocrisy of susan williams to throw herself on the mercy of the court, calling herself a mother and worrying about her children when she is the one who dragged her children through this shows you the type of person that susan williams is. >> still, all four of susan's children wrote emotional letters to the judge, pleading for leniency. but the judge saying he would afford her the same leniency she showed her husband gave susan the maximum sentence, up to 25
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years in prison. alexis fled the courtroom in tears, relatives guiding her through the mob of cameras. susan, who plans to appeal her conviction, declined to speak to "dateline." but her attorney gave us this statement. "for susan williams, this case is tragic. not so much for what has happened to her, but for what it did to her children. she believes that the publicity of retelling the story will serve only to injure them further." ad as for susan's children, her daughters are in college, while her two sons, one in middle school, one in high school, currently live with peter. private investigator joe labella seems torn about the role he played in the case. >> put a mother of four children in jail for a long time, i mean, it breaks my heart. >> but then again, had you not been involved -- >> peter williams could be dead. absolutely. >> joel labella isn't the only one who can make that claim.
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michael, after he read about susan's initial arrest, had an epipha epiphany. >> it was almost as if a light went on. i went, what's the chances of that car? >> michael, a criminal defense attorney, is referring to a cryptic phone conversation he had had with a stranger a few weeks before susan's arrest. >> he said, i'm a private investigator. i was hired by a woman to kill her husband and after a period of time she asked me if i would kill him or if i knew somebody who would kill him. >> you say to this man, what? >> i didn't say anything. i literally picked the phone up and looked at it. >> in a bizarre twist, when joel sought an in with the d. a.'s office, he'd been put in touch with none other than michael, an old friend of peter, the target of the hit. michael without pressing the stranger for any details passed him along to his contact in the d.a.'s office. did you have any idea after that phone call that he was talking
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about suzy and pete? >> no. no idea at all. >> michael now represents peter in his still pending drunk driving case. he has pleaded not guilty. peter, himself, didn't want to give an on-camera interview. he's looking to the future, friends say, rather than dwelling on the past. >> trying to rededicate himself to his business, to his children. he's met a great girl and he just wants to move on. >> as for susan, despite what she tried to to him, friends say that peter recognizes she will always be the mother of his children. >> peter said it best. the only thing that anybody could want for her, unless you're a vindictive person, she gets the help she needs so someday she can become to some extent a mother with four kids. >> after four years, peter and susan williams reached a divorce settlement. peter got the house in garden city. the house susan fought so
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desperately to keep for herself. that's all for now. i'm chris hansen. for all of us at nbc news, thanks for joining us. this sunday, it started right here. >> i don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. >> newt gingrich set off a huge battle on the right over medicare, the debt and the gop's 2012 strategy. the target of that criticism, house budget chairman paul ryan, whose plan to reform medicare has made him the most talked about figure in republican politics, and he is here this morning exclusively to respond to the controversy gingrich created. then, our "political roundtable" weighs in on all the fallout, gingrich's rough start and changing story. >> those words were inaccurate and unfortunate, and i'm
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prepared to stand up and -- when i make a mistake, and i'm going to on occasion, i'm going to stand up and share with the american people, that was a mistake. >> how are the democrats trying to take advantage and what does it all mean for the rest of the gop contend eers who are making fresh moves in the campaign? mitch daniels is now out along with trump earlier this week. pawlenty is about to get in. and huntsman in new hampshire. plus, the president's big mideast speech and the rupture with israel. with us, ranking member of the house budget committee, democrat chris van hollen of maryland, republican strategist and columnist for "time" magazine, mike murphy, chief foreign affairs correspondent for nbc news, andrea mitchell, columnist for "the washington post," eugene robinson, and author of the book "too big to fail," now an hbo movie, "the new york times'" andrew ross sorkin. captions paid for by nbc-universal television


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